Pre field trip to test water quality
The aims of this activity are to:
- help the students understand aspects of water quality
- introduce the upcoming field trip to test the health of a local waterway by assessing water quality, habitat and riparian vegetation
- familiarise students and trial tests to be performed at waterway
- develop the scientific assessment skills and processes necessary to assess the health of a waterway.
Earth and Beyond
3.3 Students collect information that describes ways in which living things use the Earth and the sun as resources.
4.1 Students recognise and analyse some interactions (including the weather) between systems of Earth and beyond.
Life and Living
3.3 Students describe some interactions (including feeding relationships) between living things and between living and non-living parts of the environment.
Place and Space
PS 3.3 Students cooperatively collect and analyse data obtained through field study instruments and surveys, to influence the care of a local place.
Systems, Resources and Power
SRP 3.1 Students make inferences about interactions between people and natural cycles, including the water cycle.
Reading and following procedural texts.
Writing to transport companies to organise field trip.
Water Quality Test
temperature probe or thermometers (preferably in a protective case)
turbidity tube available from suppliers of scientific equipment
white tile or piece of cardboard
very clean plastic or glass bottle
electrical conductivity probe (salinity meter) available from your local Waterwatch coordinator or local shire/city council
Your school may be able to borrow equipment from your regional natural resource management body, local catchment, landcare or conservation groups, or local government catchment officers involved in healthy waterways.
You will also need:
- A Waterways Health Check
- Resource Sheet 19 - Macro-invertebrate record sheet and stream rating (PDF, 184K)*
- Resource Sheet 8 – Temperature (PDF, 80K)*
- Resource Sheet 9 – Turbidity (PDF, 84K)*
- Resource Sheet 10 – Salinity (PDF, 126K)*
- Resource Sheet 11 – Brainstorming steps (PDF, 70K)*
- Resource Sheet 12 – Conducting a water-bug survey (PDF, 191K)*
Prior preparation will be necessary to ensure a successful and enjoyable field trip to a waterway.
Read and become familiar with the information within Resource Sheets 8, 9 & 10 on the tests to be performed to help determine the health of a waterway. Some of this information can be adapted for student use or background knowledge.
Prior to your visit to the waterway, perform the tests you expect the students to perform on the field trip.
Visit the waterway prior to your class trip to assess accessibility, safety, the best place to take samples and the best place to have lunch breaks.
Organise transport and parent helpers before the desired date of the trip. Discuss with the parent helpers the suggested activities and procedures for the trip and the jobs you would like them to be responsible for.
Time: 30-60 minutes
Revise what makes up a catchment area.
Ask students to focus on their local water course/sources and discuss how the health of the water would be an indication of the health of the rest of the system – land, soil, diversity of flora and fauna. List student responses.
Ask students to consider what they would test to ascertain water quality and how they would go about it. Brainstorm ideas. See Resource Sheet 11 – Brainstorming Steps.
Tell the students that they are going to visit a waterway in the future with the express purpose of measuring its health. Through the brainstorm, students may suggest ways of assessing the waterway for such things as the presence of salt, temperature, flow, suspended matter, water life (invertebrate and vertebrate life) and riparian vegetation.
Present the tests to be done and read through them. The reading of the health check and tests could be part of your reading program. Not all the tests need to be trialed.
Tests to be done
- turbidity (suspended solids)
- salinity (presence/level of salt)
- invertebrate survey
Assessments to be made using the Waterways Health Check
- wetlands/waterways health check
- land use
- pipes and drains
- extra structures/modifications
- water clarity
- invertebrate animals
- vertebrate animal life
You or a student could perform a trial run of each test. You could do a test run on water brought from outside sources such as water found within the school ground in drains, taps, or tanks. Role play taking a water-bug survey, refer to Resource Sheet 12 – Conducting a Water-bug Survey.
Complete information within the Waterways Health Check. Such as:
- site information - location, date, weather, etc
- land use
Check student understanding (through questioning) of the purpose and procedure of the tests.
In conclusion you may wish to organise students to sketch the site and/or take photos.
Within the Waterways Health Check there are suggested extension activities such as:
- using flora books or consulting local experts to learn the names of local plants. Create a list of species growing around your waterway
- using bird books, learn the names of the birds around your waterway and compile a list. Keep a chart of what birds are around at different times of the year
- undertaking action to improve the health of the waterway some of which you could do while visiting the testing site e.g. collect litter from the site.
Gathering information about student learning
Sources of information could include:
- anecdotal notes about any student alternative conceptions or alterations to conceptions
- anecdotal notes or checklist on student ability to perform the tests
- anecdotal/or mental note about students’ desire to work cooperatively.
* Requires Adobe Reader
Last updated 3 September 2010